The debate over foreigners working in the United States has been a heated discussion for nearly as long as we have been a country.
In the 1800s, the federal courts clearly stated that illegal aliens should enjoy all the rights and freedoms allowed by the fifth and sixth amendments. Under federal and state laws, persons ‘without papers’ are due the same benefits as natural citizen regarding wages, discrimination, safety and all other rights we expect in the workplace.
Foreigners are a as much a part of the fabric of our landscape as hamburgers and baseball. Americans often claim jobs are being taken by foreigners and are defensive about their position, particularly during hard economic times. However, often these are jobs filled by foreigners with better education and qualifications than their U.S. counterpart.
Often we think of laborers as gardeners and trades better left to someone else, who are more willing to toil at lower wages. The truth is, professions such as technology and medicine are employing more and more foreign-born people. Just think of the last time you went to the doctor or saw in interview on television for ‘expert’ opinions.
While the Supreme Court recently contended that illegal aliens should not be admitted to the bar as attorneys, there are very few areas that foreigners are not welcome. Times are changing yet repeating themselves at the same time. Due to wars and poverty in other countries, record numbers of people are seeking a home in the United States, just as they did at the turn of the century.
I recently met three children at a hotel who were visiting from Saudi Arabia. The eldest was an engineering student here in the U.S. and the younger girls were obviously well educated too. I commented on the lack of accents and was impressed with their grasp of idioms most foreigners miss; the boy told me they were taught English as young children and have been schooled since they could walk.
Perhaps, as Americans, we should spend less time protecting our borders and more time taking a look in our own backyards. Are our children encouraged to learn science? Speak more than one language before high school? Once we prepare our young for the jobs that shape our country, we will see those jobs filled by our own.